Hamburg: Miniature Wonderland & Waterfront Festival

Hamburg Miniature Wonderland

Wow, it is no wonder that this Miniature Wonderland is considered Hamburg’s number one tourist attraction.  It is said to be the world’s largest railway but I think that gives you a wrong impression as it is so much more.  There are huge displays of concerts packed with people, highlights from Rome, Hamburg and Las Vegas. There is a full scale airport with planes actually taking off and landing.  There are winter cities, Swiss alps and people playing beach volleyball.  Not everything moves but some items do.  In one scene you see a truck turning on its left hand turn signal but having to wait for the traffic light to turn green and then wait for a bus that goes around the corner.  You then see fire trucks and ambulances head towards a fire.  They even change the lighting in the building so that the miniature scenes go from daylight to night time.  At night you see some extra lights come on and then go off in the houses.  It is really well done.  They give you a brochure when you buy your ticket that we didn’t read until we were in the car coming home.  The brochure asks if you saw 20 interesting details which included a dinosaur, a mummy, a skiing accident, a sangria party, a penguin family and a knight’s tournament. Mike and I scored 1 out of 20!

Images from the Internet of the Miniature Wonderland

** note: Picture group removed due to licensing issues

Hamburg has recently opened a new opera house called the Elbphilharmonie.  It is obviously based on the Sydney Opera House and intends to be the new iconic feature of Hamburg.  The opening was six years later than planned and the costs went up more than 10 times the original budget.  The opera house was scheduled to open in 2010 at a cost of €77.  It finally opened in 2016 at a cost greater than €800.  It is right down at the harbor and is built on top of a historic warehouse that has been turned into a parking garage. Below is a picture that Mike took of the structure.  In the carousel above you will see the structure highlighted at the miniature village.  In the miniature opera house, you will sometimes hear the symphony playing and then slowly the opera house splits and opens showing off the inside.  It is a really great display.


Hamburg Waterfront Festival

Thank heavens for credit card hassles.  Mike and I knew that parking would probably be disastrous down at Hamburg’s Waterfront Festival which gets one to two million visitors over a couple of days.  We decided to try and take a subway from the suburbs into the city.  When we got there the ticket machine wouldn’t take our credit card which has happened multiple times in Germany.  We don’t know why.  As we were fumbling for cash a German gentleman came up and asked if he could help.  By this time we were fine but we got to talking since he was going to the port also he walked with us to the correct train and stayed with us to show us where to get off.  His name is Clemens Haffner.

Clemens, Jackie & 200 year old alley

His wife is a nurse who was working for the day so he was on his own and we ended up spending the entire day with him.  Clemens, if you are reading this, thank-you so very much.  You made the day for us.  Clemens spent 20 years as a tour guide around the world and now works for a bank.  Not only did we wander around the waterfront with him but with Clemens we walked through the old part of town and into various historic sites including St. Michel’s cathedral, a tunnel underneath the river and a tiny little street that had been restored from about 200 years ago which we would never have found on our own.  I told Clemens that we noticed that there was less English in Germany and that we assumed it was because it Germany’s size and industry.  He said that there was actually a different reason for the lack of English and that was the movie industry.  Most movies shown in Germany have been dubbed in German.  Apparently movies and TV shows when shown in the original English are a great source of learning the language.  Remember that someone in the Netherlands told us that was how he learned English but I had a hard time believing him.  Clemens says that it is really true.  His kids watched English TV and it really helped them learn a second language.

The waterfront festival had lots of tall ships and many other boats running around as well.  There were demonstrations by the marine fire department and rescue helicopters.  We saw some dragon boat teams but they weren’t racing at the time.

Clemens took us to the Elbphilharmonie, the opera house that cost about a billion Canadian dollars to build.  We toured as much of it as we could.  It was very impressive.  I was disappointed that you couldn’t actually get into the concert hall itself.  Apparently you have to buy tickets to a concert to see the concert hall and they are sold out for the next twelve months.  Clemens told us that if we wanted to see inside we just needed Justin Trudeau’s help.  It seems that he will be back here for the G20 in July and will attend a concert and a dinner in the hall.  Now Mike and I just need an invitation!  The concert hall has 15 floors above it with 44 apartments.  I understand that these apartments are phenomenally expensive.  Supposedly many of the owners don’t actually live here full time but wanted an apartment to stay in when visiting Hamburg.  What it must be like to have that type of money.

We had lunch in a nice café with a live Bavarian band playing music.  When I see all that brass I assume that it will get very loud very quickly.  I was concerned because I wanted to “interrogate” Clemens over lunch.  Well somehow the band played at a level that still allowed conversation, now nice.  You learn so much more from the people who live in the towns you are visiting.

One other thing that Clemens did for us was to make a recommendation of where to go next.  He told us about a small town 80 km away that has a restored medieval centre and has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.  We will head there next.  It is great to be really flexible and able to change the direction you are driving at any point in time.

Next report will be after we have seen Lubeck.  We are trying to keep our map up to date daily even if we don’t add any extra articles.  Keep us in mind while we are away.

P.S. While I was writing this Mike wandered in with another couple of people who wanted to see inside our home.  We are going to have to keep our house tidier and cleaner than ever before.  Mum, thanks so much for the bedroom décor which always looks great.

I now tell people here that this is our “house” and not just a vacation camper.  It helps justify the size.

P.P.S.  Just got an email from Clemens with some suggestions for other interesting places in the area sound nice.  I ran outside and told Mike that we aren’t leaving today after all we will now head to Lubeck tomorrow instead.  We think it is great that we can make these changes on the fly.

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